Plentiness Lock’s Daughters

The Monmouthshire Beacon of December 1869 mentioned a significant Gypsy family when it noted that ‘Mary Ann Organ, daughter of Henry Organ, who is a hawker and travels the country with a horse and cart was charged . . . with hawking without a licence.’ Mary Ann had been less than co-operative with the policeman who found her selling her brooms and brushes, but she got away with a small fine, since ‘the mother of the prisoner . . . briefly addressed his worship on her daughter’s behalf.’ Mary Ann Organ had been baptised at Canon-Frome, Herefordshire on 7th January 1850, so was probably just 20 at the time of the court case.

The mother who intervened so effectively was Plentiness, the wife of Henry Organ, and a daughter of Matthew Lock and Remembrance Boswell. She had been baptised at Trysull, Staffordshire on 20th January 1820 and married Henry Organ, son of Joseph, a hawker, at Albrighton, Shropshire at the end of August 1839. The couple had a large family, including Tennant, Alfred, Selina, Noah, Mary Ann, Joseph, Memberancy, Charles, John and Elizabeth; although they travelled a good deal, they favoured the Midlands and, in particular, Wales.

Little Elizabeth Organ, Plentiness and Henry’s last known child, died in infancy. Their eldest daughter, Selina, married into the Gypsy and Traveller population, unlike her two younger sisters. She wed Charles Burton, the son of Jeremiah and Harriet, at Westbury, Shropshire on 19th March 1866; favouring the same territory Selina’s family had travelled, this couple had several children, including Selina, Emmanuel, Isabella, Herbert, Henry, and Richard.

Mary Ann Organ was to marry in August 1877 at Llanfabon, in Glamorgan; her new husband, Henry Thorne, was not a Gypsy, but a mason, who presumably came to the area as a result of significant building work being available. He had been baptised in Carhampton, Somerset, in 1856, the son of James and Jane, and his father was also a mason. Just a week after this wedding, and some three miles down the road, at Gelligaer, Mary Ann’s sister, Memberancy Organ (named for Plentiness’s mother, Remembrance), also married a mason, George Parker.

Four years later Mary Ann and Henry are living at Tiverton, in Devon, recorded in the 1881 census, with their daughter, Selina, named after her elder sister, and a son, Alfred James, whose second name was in tribute to Henry’s father. The couple were to have two more little girls, but the marriage didn’t last, perhaps because Mary Ann found settled life difficult. In the same census records Memberancy and George Parker, their little boy, Oliver, and George’s parents, Peter and Maria, are all living at Stoke Gifford, in Gloucestershire, and this union appears to have remained stable.

Plentiness herself seems to have been semi-settled with her husband, Henry, at Llanellen, Monmouth, in later years and was buried there in October 1890, aged 70. Henry was recorded as a widower and a Gypsy in 1891, living with his son John at a cottage opposite Pant Farm, Llanellen. By 1901 he is still there, but John is now recorded as married to Rose, and there is a grandson too, George Organ, the son of Joseph. Henry died at the end of the same year, aged 87, and was buried with Plentiness at Llanellen in December 1901.